Led by Isaiah Butler, Elgin shook off a sloppy first half to cruise past South Shore International College Prep 66-40 in the opening round of its own holiday tournament on Monday at Chesbrough Field House.
Elgin advances to Thursday's quarterfinals where it will meet Dundee-Crown at 5 p.m.
After turning the ball over 10 times in the first half, Elgin found itself clinging to a 25-23 halftime lead. That's when Butler took over. The senior scored 13 of his game-high 27 points in the third quarter as the Maroons went on a 15-1 run to begin the frame to take a commanding 40-24 lead with 4 minutes remaining. Butler nailed a 3-pointer during the run and also dominated in the paint en route to back-to-back 3-point plays.
"In the first half my shots were coming up short and I wasn't as mentally in the game," Butler said. "In the second half I got focused and zoned in. We wanted to come out strong in the second half."
Butler (7 rebounds, 3 steals) also went a perfect 9-for-9 from the free-throw line. The Maroons (4-6) finished 28-for-39 from the stripe, while South Shore only made 11 trips to the line.
"He can score all the time, it's just a matter of if he's going to play defense," said Elgin coach Mike Sitter. "He had quite a few steals and got his hands on a lot of passes in the third quarter and that was the difference. It made him more active offensively."
Elgin outscored South Shore 22-5 in the third quarter to take a 47-28 lead into the fourth.
"It was our energy level. The last game we played in front of 2,500 fans against Larkin and that got us excited," Sitter said. "In the second half we knew we didn't want to be in the loser's bracket so that got us excited. We came out and held them to five points in the third."
Sophomore Lavion Baldwin added 9 points for the Maroons, and Donte Harper and Ryan Sitter each had 6 points as 10 players reached the scoring column.
Ari Slaughter led South Shore (6-7) with a team-high 7 points.